Artist: Mattheaus KERN (1801 - 1852, Vienna, Austria)
Portrait of 6 children, pencil and watercolor painting 12 3/4" x 9 5/8" heavy paper
Original frame: 16" x 12 3/4" x 2"
British Museum: "Miniature-painter, lithographer, engraver, etcher. Born in Riedhausen; Initial training with Johann Georg Sautter in Aulendorf; Studied in Vienna, 1823-27; Active as a portraitist and miniature-painter in Vienna, but suffered a decline in commissions after the Revolutions of 1848; Moved to Königseggwald and Switzerland, where he worked as a fresco painter; Fell ill in 1851 and returned to Vienna where he died." We know that in his short life he created a fine body of work, miniatures, engravings, intricate interiors (see final image with a few prior auction sales), and his works are in Museum collections far and wide, as well as top private collections. This pencil and watercolor 'sketch'/painting is particularly charming, showing 6 children. In sittings with each child, comprising many sketches to work from, the artist combines in superb composition, the children of this family of Nobility, likely Austrian. The artwork reminds me very much of the personal family portraits done in France shortly earlier by Ingres and David, primarily pencil sketch works with exquisite detail of faces, fading to line in the outer clothing details. Intimate and stunning works or art.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, housed in the original ornate heavy wood frame, carved and gilded and without losses. The portrait miniature is on undamaged heavy paper, 100% cotton rag, and is beautifully composed. It seems likely to me that the baby in front center might have been added to the original composition of 5 older children, showing a rather unique growing family. Something one does not see done often but quite charming in this instance. Fine clear old flat glass has protected it well. The paper has also had professional cleaning of any age-old foxing or darkened spots and is fresh and shows perfectly well - fine preservation, no evidence but the prior record photos of it. Backing is the old 1/4" thick rough slab of wood. Hanging apparatus in place, ready to hang and enjoy. I have no flaws to report on this exceptional museum quality work of art.